Observation: Aging underground infrastructure may be susceptible to deterioration and issues associated with changing technologies, changing climate, and societal needs.

Conclusion 7. Underground space development requires a long-term commitment to technological advancements in an environment that is friendly to improved planning, innovation, and implementation.

Potential actions:

a. Design infrastructure that allows ease of access for inspections, maintenance, repairs, upgrades, and reconfigurations in response to new needs or technologies that allow such work to be completed at lower costs.

b. Consider resource needs, availabilities, and access when making administrative and technical decisions concerning development. These include energy resources (e.g., oil, gas, and other energy resources), industrial minerals, high-value or critical strategic minerals (e.g., gold, uranium, rare earth elements), and construction materials (e.g., gravel, sand, building stone).

c. Use appropriate models that demonstrate multiple potential scenarios and allow better infrastructural system planning based on local conditions.


a. Academia and system stakeholders could collaboratively develop long-term performance simulation models for complex systems and validate the results over time to understand dynamic responses and emerging system behaviors.

b. Explore how technologies and innovations from other industries (e.g., exploration tools, in situ analytical techniques, measurement-while-drilling systems, laser scanning, fusion of multi-sensor data) and civilian application of military research could be applied to underground engineering.

c. Conduct long-term research on the effects of the underground infrastructure on the natural and built environments to increase the capacity of decision making for society’s best long-term interests.

d. Research comprehensively and on a common risk-cost-reward basis the long-term effects on sustainability of underground storage or disposal of urban wastes (e.g., municipal, sewage, or energy-related products).

Improved technologies can enhance the ability to select the most sustainable approach to underground space use by making such use cheaper or better. For example, the development of better planning, design, and construction technologies can reduce construction costs, minimize deterioration, increase resilience,

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